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An overview of Klumpke paralysis

Soon-to-be mothers in Texas may want to know about a rare birth injury called Klumpke paralysis. This paralysis is caused by injuries to the brachial plexus, a network of nerves extending from the spinal cord to the first rib and to the armpits. These nerves control movement in the shoulders, arms and hands.

These injuries, in turn, can be caused during a difficult delivery. The nerves may be stretched, scarred or torn. A tear may be at the spine, in which case it is called an avulsion, or it may be elsewhere, in which case it is referred to as a rupture.

Most cases of Klumpke paralysis are mild and short-term with the infant experiencing weakness or loss of movement in the hand and lower arm for anywhere between 4 and 12 months. Another symptom that parents could watch out for is a drooping eyelid on the side opposite to that of the affected arm, known as Horner syndrome.

In mild cases, the baby's arm may be massaged and put through range-of-motion exercises whereas torn nerves may require a nerve graft or other surgical procedure. Permanent damage is rare when surgery is undertaken in a timely manner. Identifying Klumpke paralysis usually begins with X-rays and other tests that look for nerve damage.

There are cases where doctors and nurses unintentionally inflict birth injuries through their own negligence. Improperly pulling and handling an infant is one major cause of injuries. Families of an injured baby may want to speak with a lawyer about the possibility of recovering damages. These damages may include past and future medical expenses as well as emotional suffering. The lawyer might hire medical experts and investigators in the effort to build up the case before taking it up with the medical center's own legal team.

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